Case 2 – Shortness of Breath

You are seeing Mrs. Clark, a 30 year old woman, in the Emergency Department today shortness of breath. Take a focused history of his complaint.


  • Onset and duration of shortness of breath
  • Alleviating factors, including any use of puffers
  • Aggravating factors, including exercise, second hand smoke, allergens
  • Progression or worsening of symptoms
  • Presence of nighttime symptoms
  • Frequency
  • Sputum production, presence of blood in sputum
  • Recent cough, sore throat, myalgias and other symptoms of URTI
  • Chest tightness
  • Presence of fever or chills
  • Recent respiratory illness
  • Smoking history (quantity in pack-years)
  • alcohol/drug history
  • Exposure to infectious contacts
  • Vaccination history – especially seasonal flu
  • Exposure to environmental allergens/irritants
  • Recent travel
  • Effect on daily activities, including work and home life
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Past occurrence of such symptoms
  • Personal history of asthma
  • Family history of atopy (asthma, eczema, etc.)
Case 2 – Shortness of Breath